Wednesday, June 28, 2006

You Come From Where?

Back home, aside from my regular job, on some weekends I'd go with my sister and brother-in-law to the NBC Tent and Forbes Park bazaars to sell our handmade jewelry. These days, I'm doing the exact same thing, except that I do it alone, the bazaars are called open-air markets, the addresses are Gordes, St. Remy de Provence, and Arles, and my clients are not Manila's fashionista crowd, but tourists from all over. I even sold a necklace to a Filipina named Maritess yesterday. She came to Gordes with an entourage of husband, son, and yaya, also a Filipina. Told you I'm still in the Philippines.

But this blog entry isn't about that. It's about, while doing this business, I've come to realize that the Department of Tourism needs to launch a serious publicity campaign. People see my brown face standing out in a sea of white, and of course they have to ask, "Where are you from?" There were times when this is what happened:

Scenario #1
ME: The Philippines.
EUROPEAN/NORTH AMERICAN: (Blank look)
ME: It's in Asia.
EUROPEAN/NORTH AMERICAN: Ooohhhh....

Scenario #2
ME: The Philippines.
NORTH AMERICAN: (Blank look)
ME: It's in Asia.
NORTH AMERICAN: (Enlightened look coming into eyes, voice getting excited) Yes, you were hit by the tsunami!

Scenario #3
ME: The Philippines.
EUROPEAN: Is that near Papua New Guinea?

Scenario #4
ME: The Philippines.
EUROPEAN KID: (Fingering a necklace) Are all of you Chinese good at making stuff with your hands?
ME: Uhm, the Philippines?

Scenario #5
ME: The Philippines.
EUROPEAN: Are you part of a minority or do you all have black hair and dark eyes?

Scenario #6 (When the other person actually has an idea where the country is.)
EUROPEAN: What are the houses like?
ME: Regular, like you see here.
EUROPEAN: (Looking disappointed)
ME: (Never wanting to disappoint) Okay, there are things called nipa huts.
EUROPEAN: (Brightening up) Are they up on trees?
ME: Unless you're going to buy a necklace, I think you better go now.

11 comments:

decorator said...

eh pucha! mag-aral nga uli sila ng geography!

tommpouce said...

Ignorance is bliss :p If it can help, I've had similar questions on holland. Well (some!!!) people know where it is, but questions about prostitutes at every street corner, dope in every shop and tulips in every meal (blahhhh) are some of the most educated guesses.
And where the heck is papua new guinea anyway?

-Partially Educated European-

KatsMeow said...

Ate, I love it! Ipapakita ko siya sa asawa ko. But did you know, here in DC, kasi maraming military, alam nila kung saan yung Pilipinas. In fact, most of them have been there. And usually, the second question I get is "Did you live near the [U.S.] bases?" Napagkamalan akong p*ta! Hay naku, it happens all the time. Would you rather be typecast as a mail order bride or as a prostitute?

tuesday said...

ati i have an upcoming web project to promote the philippines after a classmate of mine asked me if the philippines was located in latin america. i think if we rely on the department of tourism to do that, we´d never see the light of day. GMA for example came here to europe with 50 delegates using government money I suppose. lets chat one of these days if you have the time.

tuesday said...

on another note, we all have to be patient. joan, my husband tells me not to be angry when hearing these bobo remarks and instead educate them. anyway i can´t be too proud of myself too. i was also guilty of being ignorant. a long time ago, i had an ethiopian classmate and my first impression of ethiopia was of course people dying of hunger eventhough my classmate was perfectly healthy.

Makis said...

I was always Chinese, Japanese on a smarter day & Thai on the smartest day here in France.

apol said...

Actually, even first-worlders have this problem. I was talking to a very blond family the other day, and I asked where they were from. The mom replied, "Norway," looked at me warily, and asked, "You know where its is?" I replied, of course, and asked why she asked. She said, "So many people don't have any idea where we are!" So, Norwegians, Papua New Guineans, and Pinoys unite!

haze said...

Grabe! I would advice them to buy the MAP OF THE WORLD, usually Europeans are very particular in georgraphy and history because they travel a lot and it's part of their culture! Eh beh, ksi si Bernard mas alam pa history ng Pilipinas sa akin eh, ha ha ha! Ang alam lang ata nila pag Asia is Japan, China ang Vietnam the rest it doesn't count...no more !

mcsister said...

This is hilarious, but unbelievable din. On my first few months here, a few colleagues chatted me up then made a reference to a sweet Filipina maid who worked with them, and taught them about balut. I don't fault them – that's their limited knowledge of Pinays kasi. The other comment would be "Wow, you must a great singer!" I have since introduced some of them to the wonders of the Magic Mic!

Kearns said...

That's insane. Perhaps because I am in DC, I expect most people have heard of the Philippines.

Norway, I can understand, tiny country. But aren't there 90 million people in the Philippines?

apol said...

The Pinoy invasion has not quite reached France to the degree it has the United States and other parts of Asia, MAYA and KEARNS. And remember that this coutry has not had much shared history with the Philippines. So they know Vietnam and they know Laos, and now Thailand because it's a popular vacation spot, but they really don't know much about our 7,100 islands. They don't even know we're excellent at karaoke, Maya.